By Eric Siddall
Recent news reports confirm an increase in hate crimes. As highlighted by KFI reporter Eric Leonard, elected officials, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, recently participated in a press conference to encourage reporting of hate crimes. They also acknowledged that the punishment is now limited by Proposition 57.
The number of reported hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County rose 24% in 2015 from the previous year, breaking a seven-year general downward trend, according to a report by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.
Yet, despite universal condemnation of hate crimes, Prop 57 gutted any deterrence value or punishment against these very crimes. This is because the punishment of hate motivated crimes comes in the form of an enhancement. Prop 57 now allows the parole board to ignore these enhancements when considering releasing a prisoner. In essence, the person who gets in a bar fight and the person who attacks a victim because of their race will both be eligible for parole at the same time.
District Attorney Lacey acknowledged that hate crimes may become more difficult to punish with the passage of Prop 57. Governor Brown did not join the parade of officials highlighting the increase of hate crimes. This might be because the very people his proposition helps are the very people who are committing these crimes.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.